4 min read

Great retail marketing is built on emails – here’s why

Written by
Ross Tremblay
Published on
February 7, 2023

Yes, you should collect emails (in 2021)

We've heard it before: email in retail marketing doesn't work. Your customers won't read your emails, you're not getting any response, it doesn't feel right. Hear us out, there’s more it!

Email has the second highest conversion rate in eCommerce – better than organic traffic, direct traffic, paid traffic, and even social media.

We agree, there are newer ways to communicate, especially with the younger generation. But emails remain highly effective – and that hasn’t changed in over 15 years.

Not only do emails enjoy higher opening rates than you (might) think, they also account for the second highest conversion source in eCommerce – after referrals.

Emails are important. Ultimately, they are a key ingredient to any great retail marketing strategy. And with technology advancing, emails become more and more versatile, too.

But an email isn’t only about communication, in fact, it’s much more valuable.

3 alternative ways to use your email list

Since you've read this far, I assume you’re already collecting emails. Maybe you’re even publishing a newsletter. That's great!

But email is more than simply another channel to communicate. Let’s take a look at 3 alternative ways to use emails for retail marketing.

1. Customer segmentation

Customer segmentation describes the process of dividing an audience (e.g. your customer base) into smaller groups based on a certain interest, similar behaviour, or other shared characteristics.

Our fictive fashion and apparel retailer, Circle Y, segments customers based on their purchases, for example, whether a customer bought casual shirts or trendy sneakers.

Segmentation is a powerful technique. Not only does it allow you to better understand your customers, it’s also the engine for personalisation.

In an age where 40% of consumers purchase something more expensive than originally planned because their customer experience was personalised, that’s worth a lot.

In order to segment customers, you need to identify them. Since customers live both online and offline, their email address is the perfect unique identifier.

2. Personalisation

Once you’ve started to enrich your existing customer segments with behavioural and contextual information, you can take your retail marketing strategy to another level.

With Lookalike Audiences, you can extend your segmentation onto new people who are likely to share the same characteristics. This enables you to reach shoppers with similar interests like your existing customers. Consequently, these people often share a higher interest in your products and services.

Facebook and Instagram, for instance, allow you to create Lookalike Audiences based on existing email lists. You can either upload your emails as a CSV file or import it from your email service provider. In combination with your customer segmentation, this feature helps you to create highly targeted ads and message.

Back to our fictive example.

Circle Y has been able to identify two key characteristics of their customer segments:

  1. 70% of the customers who bought formal shirts bought at least 2 different variants (colours) and
  2. Customers who bought sneakers were 8x more likely to buy shorts, too.

Based on these insights, Circle Y created two different marketing campaigns. Campaign A included a set of two formal shirts in different colours, while campaign B contained an image of a model presenting the latest sneakers wearing shorts.

Great retail marketing is personalised

Personalisation, from a revenue perspective, is powerful. Not only does it have the potential to increase sales, your customers also expect it.

In fact, according to Google, people are asking for personalisation. The company found that every second respondent wanted brands to send them promotions or deals specific to their purchase behaviour.

Another survey by Epsilon indicated that 80% of online shoppers were more likely to buy from a business that offered a personalised experience, while 90% found the concept of personalisation ‘appealing’.

Interestingly, personalisation also achieves higher opening rates in email campaigns. In an experiment by SuperOffice, a segmented email list was found to have a staggering 94% opening rate, compared to an average opening rate of 40% within the control group – which still is amazingly good.

3. Omnichannel customer experiences

Retailers with high email address coverage are able to provide true Omnichannel customer experiences both online and offline. Effectively, an email address serves as a unique identifier. It’s like the number in your passport.

Retail marketeers can use email addresses to identify visitors in stores or pop-up locations and tailor recommendations based on additional customer insights available in their CRM (Customer Relationship Management).

By bringing together retail marketing data from various channels, retailers are able to provide seamless customer experiences at scale. Considering the impact that a positive offline customer experience can make, this is a very lucrative strategy.

In one of its latest reports, Radiant showed the impact of a positive offline experience with consumers stating they were more likely to

  • return (to a brand) again – 90%,
  • spend more at a location – 61%, and
  • spend more online with a brand – 65%.

Email remains relevant for (great) retail marketing

The way we communicate with each other has changed and will continue to do so. From (handwritten) notes, text, and images to memes and voice notes.

While many people have shifted to other channels of communication for personal or even professional use, email remains relevant.

Not only are we using an email address for almost any type of services we sign up for, advanced technologies also enables us to change the way we communicate via emails.

With rich media content and interactive functionality such as surveys, quizzes, and image carousels, use cases for emails in retail marketing are growing fast.

From social media ads to personalised and Omnichannel customer experiences – modern retail marketing is built on emails.

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